Russia Prepares Once Again To Become "Great Power" And Challenge The US
By Kade HawkinsApril 27, 2016
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Two Russian warplanes buzzed a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea in what a defense official called a "simulated attack profile," one of several close encounters between the destroyer and the aircraft last week.
The Russian jets came within 1,000 yards of the destroyer, flying just 100 feet off the ground, a defense official said. The next day, a Russian jet came within just 30 feet of the
destroyer, the defense official said.
These latest provocations by Russia may provide insight into a military that is now willing to challenge the US similar to the cold war days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is rebuilding Russia's military capability to restore it to "great power" status and is doing it fast thanks to a large population base with a highly trained workforce and a budget of almost $50 Billion annually.
With over 140 million people and 13 million college graduates, Russia has nearly a million first-class scientists, engineers and technicians, most of whom work for the military.
The Russian military complex is turning out new weapons technology at a rapid pace, many designed to counter US weapons systems. The US has reason to be concerned and has tasked Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to oversee a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the military should adapt to this Russian wake-up call.
McMaster's task has been described as the most dramatic rethinking of warfare scenarios since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
McMaster told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that Russia's modernization plan has been both ambitious and largely successful. He warned that "Russia now possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than U.S. Army artillery systems and munitions." Its tanks, meanwhile, are so improved that they are "largely invulnerable to anti-tank missiles."
The lethality of new Russian munitions is also alarming, including the use of scatterable mines, which the US no longer possesses. At least 14 different types of drones have been used in the conflict with Ukraine and the US needs to answer serious questions about how to prepare for drone warfare.
How do you attack an adversary's UAV? Can we blind, disrupt or shoot down these systems? The U.S. military hasn't suffered any significant air attacks since 1943 and has not been battle tested in these new forms of warfare when the adversary has equal or greater technologies.
As more details of Russian capabilities come to light, some military analysts are surprised that there have not been more warnings voiced in the military establishment.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin undertook an aggressive military buildup, the U.S. Army actually drew up plans to shrink our active-duty force by some 40,000, from about 490,000 to 450,000 over the next several years.
However, the threat beyond conventional warfare gets even more dangerous when you look at Russia's tactical nuclear build-up.
Russia is doubling the number of its strategic nuclear warheads on new missiles by deploying multiple re-entry vehicles that have put Moscow over the limit set by the New START arms treaty, according to Pentagon officials.
The 2010 treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce deployed warheads to 1,550 warheads by February 2018.
Whereas the United States has cut its warhead stockpiles significantly in recent years, Moscow's, numbers have increased.
Last month Russia announced it would re-introduce nuclear missile trains, allowing intercontinental ballistic missiles to be moved about the country by rail so they would be harder to target.
There is also increasing concern over a new cruise missile called the Club-K, which can be concealed, complete with launcher, inside an innocuous-looking shipping container until the moment it is fired.
However, the development that has most alarmed Washington is Russian testing of a medium-range cruise missile which the Obama administration claims is a clear violation of the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, the agreement that brought to an end the dangerous standoff between US and Russian cruise missiles in Europe.
By hugging the contours of the Earth, cruise missiles can evade radar defenses and hit strategic targets with little or no notice, raising fears on both sides of surprise pre-emptive attacks.
The Russian emphasis on cruise missiles is in line with Putin's strategy of countering NATO's overwhelming conventional superiority with the threat of a limited nuclear strike that would inflict "tailored damage" on an adversary.
Russia also conducted a flight test of a revolutionary hypersonic glide vehicle last week that would deliver nuclear or conventional warheads through advanced missile defenses, U.S. defense officials said.
Hypersonic speed is between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 3,836 miles per hour to 7,673 miles per hour. Hypersonic speeds pose technological challenges for weapons developers because they create high heat and pressure that make flight and precision targeting difficult.
Russia has made developing hypersonic weapons a high priority.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has said that "whoever is first to achieve" mastery of hypersonic weapons would "overturn the principles" of how wars are waged.
Earlier this month, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that Russia continues to pose the greatest threat to the United States.
"The one that has the greatest capability and poses the greatest threat to the United States is Russia because of its capabilities--its nuclear capability, its cyber capability, and clearly because of some of the things we have seen in its leadership behavior over the last couple of years," Dunford said.
In addition to a large-scale nuclear buildup, Russia has upgraded its nuclear doctrine and its leaders and officials have issued numerous threats to use nuclear arms against the United States in recent months, compounding fears of a renewed Russian threat.
Russian arms officials have been quoted in press reports discussing Moscow's withdrawal from the New START arms accord. If that takes place, Russia will have had six and a half years to prepare to violate the treaty limits, at the same time the United States will have reduced its forces to treaty limits.
It would seem this may have been the plan by Putin all along. Pravda, the former mouthpiece of the Soviet regime, published an article last November titled "Russian prepares a nuclear surprise for NATO", which boasted of Russian superiority over the west, particularly in tactical nuclear weapons.
"The Americans are well aware of this," the commentary said. "They were convinced before that Russia would never rise again. Now it's too late."